[Sca-cooks] Baker of Bagels in the 11th C

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 1 16:05:40 PDT 2009

emilio szabo <emilio_szabo at yahoo.it> wrote:
> Here is the passage from volume II, where G. comments on "baker of cakes" and 
> "baker of bagels":
> http://books.google.com/books?id=QH3BHQulNpsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:ISBN0520221621&hl=de#PPA297,M1
> Alas, the note 27 is not part of the preview.

Footnote 27 gives the source of "the same Jewish baker of bagels" taking a loan from a Muslim miller before paying back the first loan. It sheds no light on Goitein's interpretation of "ka'k" as "bagel". (yes, i have the complete 6-vol. set of "A Mediterranean Society")

As i posted, in medieval Arabic language cookbooks "ka'k" are usually what we'd call "cookies" (more archaically "cakes"). Some area formed into rings, some have sweet filling (e.g., almonds with sugar), some are dipped in syrup. Some are not formed into rings, but are formed with a mold and stuffed with date filling, basically like modern mamoul. I'll be happy to post some SCA-period recipes, if anyone likes. Apparently another item called "ka'k" is a ring-shaped bread that is intentionally dry, handy for travelers - i forget where, but somewhere i read it referred to as a type of "hardtack".

In the modern Middle East, there are, to the best of my knowledge, two items called "ka'k". One is a "cookie" very similar to the medieval kinds. The other is a bread ring, unlike any bagels i know, covered with sesame seeds, and which seems to me to be like, if not identical to, the modern Turkish simit. Neither is boiled before baking.

Apparently in Israel in the 20th and 21st centuries, the simit-like sesame-coated bread is called by the Yiddish "bagaleh", the diminutive of the Yiddish "bagel" (Yiddish being a dialect of High German). However, the modern Israeli bagaleh is not smaller than a typical bagel, and is baked in an oven without being boiled first, which is typical of bagels as i've known them. I've also read that "bagaleh" can also refer to something like what we in the US called a "soft pretzel" (since most of ours are hard and dry and crunchy).

So i am skeptical of calling a "ka'k" a "bagel" just because it's make of flour, formed into a ring, and baked in an oven.

P.S., why is a bagel boiled before baking?

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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